Today I will compare the careers of IB John Olerud and DH Edgar Martinez. Martinez has managed to stay alive being eligible for the Hall of Fame while Olerud got less than 1% of the votes his first time on the ballot. Martinez revolutionized the designated hitter position, without which his career would have been over at a young age due to injuries. Fittingly, his career didn't take off until he made the move to full time DH at age 31 in 1995. Though he put up good numbers in his career, I personally think he falls short of Hall of Fame consideration.
Olerud was always known as a pure hitter. An outstanding first baseman, he was always second fiddle to 1B such as Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Jim Thome, Jason Giambi and even Tino Martinez. Mostly because the others were known for hitting homeruns. Olerud was acquired in one of the best trades in Mets history in the 1996 offseason as he continued to produce after he left the Toronto Blue Jays and went to the Mets and then Mariners, becoming teammates with Martinez from 2000-2004.
Martinez started his MLB career in 1987, two years before Olerud. Martinez's last season was 2004 and Olerud's was 2005. Olerud played in more games though, 2234 to 2055, mostly because of injuries that effected the early part of Edgar's career. They had almost the same amount of hits with Martinez edging Olerud out 2247 to 2239. Martinez was known to be a better power hitter hitting 309 HR to Olerud's 255, but only had 31 more RBIs than Olerud who had 1230. Martinez also held off Olerud with a .312 batting average while John hit .295. Edgar won batting titles in 1992 (.343) and 1995 (.356) while Olerud won a batting title in 1993 with Toronto (.363) and despite coming up short in 1998 with the Mets, did hit .354 for the season. Olerud won two World Series titles with Toronto in 1992 and 1993, while Martinez was on those very good Seattle teams that had great players such as Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey, Jr and Ichiro as well as good contributers such as Tino Martinez, Brett Boone and Jay Buhner yet could never be a serious World Series contender.
Both players had their share of walks and both had more walks than strikeouts in their final career numbers. (Martinez 1283 BB, 1202 K, Olerud 1275 BB, 1016 K) The edge has to go to Edgar, who has better numbers, though not convincingly. Both players should get credit for tremendous careers and, assuming they were both clean, did it on the stage where many players were using steroids. Martinez will get the additional HOF consideration because he was probably the best ever DH, as well as the first to play the better part of his career as one. Olerud deserved some, but he falls short in my opinion. I think Edgar falls short also, but he will get a couple more years on the ballot maintaining 5% or more of the votes.